‘An Actress Prepares’ in Edinburgh

“Empire film magazine crowned Marilyn Monroe the ‘Sexiest Female Movie Star of all Time’, while People magazine voted her the ‘Sexiest Woman of the Century’. But what was beyond the public image and the pretty face? Now the life and thoughts of the troubled screen goddess is coming to Edinburgh in An Actress Prepares, a surprising and revealing adaptation of Marilyn Monroe’s last ever interview, for the first time ever making its appearance on stage.

On 17th August 1962 LIFE magazine published “Last Talk with a Lonely Girl”.  36 years old, divorced for the third time and now living alone, frustrated by Hollywood and tired of the label ‘sex symbol’, the final years of her life were marked by illness, personal problems, and a reputation for being unreliable and difficult to work with.  In An Actress Prepares, Marilyn reflects on her silver screen persona and exaltation to one of the most celebrated idols of her time, while freely admitting to never knowing happiness. Candid and contemplative, and with her untimely death shortly after, this was to become her ultimate interview.”

Bulgarian actress Irina Diva plays Marilyn in An Actress Prepares (a pun on Monroe’s dramatic bible, An Actor Prepares by Constantin Stanislavski) at the Edinburgh Fringe until this Saturday, August 21.

Venue:  Zoo Roxy – The Warren, 2 Roxburgh Place (venue 115)

Time:  22.00 (22.45)

Dates:  15th – 21st August 2010

Tickets:  £8.00

Box Office: 0131 662 689

‘Some Like It Hot’ in Ithaca

“This is Monroe in one of her steamiest performances alongside two of the most talented actors of their generation. Ranked the funniest American movie of all time by the American Film Institute, and it’s true!”

Sunday, August 22 at 7pm and Tuesday, August 24 at  9:30pm at the newly reopened Cornell Cinema

Mad Men: ‘Dr Faye Miller’

It’s 1964 and Marilyn Monroe has been dead for two years, but on Madison Avenue her memory is still very much alive. A new character, Dr Faye Miller, is introduced in the latest episode of Mad Men, ‘Every Wall Glares Like a Glass Ceiling’ (Season 4:4.)

Reviewing the episode for the Vanity Fair blog, James Wolcott wrote:

Don and Roger field short hops from their Lucky Strikes client (regarding new restrictions on cigarette advertising), interrupted by questions over the Pond’s Cold Cream focus group being held in Joan’s office, much to Joan’s chagrin, which she manages to express without a single facial move, entirely through inflection and the No drama eloquence of her wrists.

The focus group is led by Dr. Faye Miller (Cara Buono), the blonde psychologist and motivational researcher who appears to be intended as a younger, dishier model of the impeccable Dr. Joyce Brothers, TV’s original princess of pop psychology. Yet I may be doing Dr. Brothers an injustice, because during the 60s her braininess was supposedly driving quite a classy chassis. “She looks like Loretta Young, walks like Marilyn Monroe, and talks like Dr. Freud,” purred a publicity handout at the time. Actually, I seem to recall Dr. Brothers looking and walking more like June Allyson and talking more like a sensible sedative, but perhaps when she presented herself in a roomful of male execs back then, she exuded the porcelain sex-pow that Dr. Faye Miller projects.

‘Faye Miller’ was one of the many pseudonyms used by Marilyn when she checked into hotels and airports incognito. Miller was, of course, the surname of her third husband, playwright Arthur Miller.

Marilyn used the name in February 1961, just after her divorce from Miller, when she entered the Payne-Whitney Psychiatric Hospital. When Monroe’s psychiatrist, Dr Marianne Kris, persuaded her that she needed treatment, Marilyn was unaware that it was a secure unit.

Marilyn’s stay lasted just four days, and it seems her disguise didn’t work as she later told friends of being stared at constantly by patients and staff.

Her experience was traumatic and she blamed Dr Kris, though curiously the analyst was not removed from Monroe’s 1961 will. Weeks before her death in 1962, Marilyn approached her lawyer, Milton Rudin, about changing the will but he did not act in time.

It was Joe DiMaggio, Marilyn’s second husband, who came to her rescue and had her transferred to Columbia Presbyterian, a general hospital where she recuperated in private.

Actress Cara Buono remained tight-lipped about the significance of her character’s name, suggesting to Entertainment Weekly that the MM reference may be explained later:

Your character’s name, “Faye Miller,” was also the pseduonym Marilyn Monroe used when she checked into a mental facility. What’s the significance there?
Well, all that information is revealed bit by bit…we’ll find out if that has any meaning. I wondered how this [interview] would be because we can only talk about the two episodes I’ve been in that already aired. But, yeah…Matt Weiner is such an amazing storyteller and I think everything is deliberate, or not. You find out what everything means — if not in this season, then in another season. Sometimes you’ll have to go back to season 1 or season 2 and think, ‘oh I remember that, that’s what this person meant…’ There’s much more to be revealed, I think.

Mariella: ‘Blonde on Blonde’

Photo by Rupert Hartley

Broadcaster and journalist Mariella Frostrup has told the Radio Times that after presenting the BBC Radio 2 series Blonde on Blonde in 2009 (profiling three iconic blondes, Doris Day, Diana Dors and Marilyn Monroe), made her realise how little the ‘dumb blonde’ stereotype has progressed over the years. (Unfortunately, Blonde on Blonde is not currently available on BBC i-Player. It was an interesting series, despite some factual errors. If it is repeated anytime I will mention it here.)

The broadcaster, 47, said she “would have thought twice” about going blonde at 16, when her father’s death left her grey, if she had “known then what my shade of choice suggested to the world”.

“Few women may be born blonde but that hasn’t stopped it becoming a noun. In blonde world whether you’re a brain surgeon, a lapdancer or an oligarch’s wife, it’s all the same. Blonde is the description – anything else merely informs us of the variety. Pinch me if I’m living in the 21st century.”

Of famous blondes like Monroe, Frostrup commented:

“Beneath the make-up and beyond the studio publicist’s spin a sorrier bunch of women you couldn’t stumble across… like so much else in their lives their most celebrated asset, their platinum locks, were fake. Perhaps it was the shadow of that deception, one of the many required to qualify as screen sirens, that saw so many of their dreams end in tragedy.”

According to Frostrup: “Being blonde means never saying you don’t understand unless you want to be predictable. Being blonde means always trying to tell the blonde joke first.” She added: “Our roots are often only skin deep and, despite assumptions to the contrary, proven side effects don’t include brain impairment.”

She cited Meryl Streep, Hillary Clinton and the pop singer Lady Gaga as examples of women who combine blonde with brains. And she quoted Dolly Parton, who famously said: “I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb – and I’m not blonde either.”

It’s not the first time Frostrup has spoken out about sexism and ‘blonde prejudice’. “Men are hideously predictable,” she told the Radio Times back in 1998. “They all want blondes with big breasts. Men expect a sweet, cute blonde and get me. They have a problem with women who are bright and good-looking. Women, on the other hand, would welcome the combination in men, given the opportunity.”

Jolie Casts Doubt on MM Role

“It’s really funny because I have just heard about this for the first time today,” Angelina Jolie told Sky News, regarding her rumoured role as MM in an upcoming film of Andrew O’Hagan’s novel, ‘Maf the Dog.’ “It’s news to me. I’m flattered – I suppose!”

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Jolie, Clooney Tipped for ‘Maf the Dog’

Photo by Douglas Kirkland

Andrew O’Hagan’s comic novel, The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe, is set for Hollywood, according to today’s Guardian.

A few years ago, Douglas Kirkland recreated his 1961 Monroe photo shoot with Angelina Jolie, to stunning effect. While I do wonder if Jolie can recapture Marilyn’s fragile charm, she is a gifted actress and Hollywood’s biggest star right now. (Her performance in Life Or Something Like It, back in 2002, drew comparisons to Monroe in some quarters.)

Screen adaptations of two other Marilyn-related books, My Week With Marilyn and Blonde, are also rumoured to be in the pipeline.